Green Madness: California Faces Electricity Crisis Due To Renewable Energy

  • Date: 28/02/13
  • Rebecca Smith, The Wall Street Journal

California is weighing how to avoid a looming electricity crisis that could be brought on by its growing reliance on wind and solar power.

Regulators and energy companies met Tuesday, hoping to hash out a solution to the peculiar stresses placed on the state’s network by sharp increases in wind and solar energy. Power production from renewable sources fluctuates wildly, depending on wind speeds and weather.

California has encouraged growth in solar and wind power to help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. At the same time, the state is running low on conventional plants, such as those fueled by natural gas, that can adjust their output to keep the electric system stable. The amount of electricity being put on the grid must precisely match the amount being consumed or voltages sag, which could result in rolling blackouts.

At Tuesday’s meeting, experts cautioned that the state could begin seeing problems with reliability as soon as 2015.

California isn’t the only state having trouble coping with a growing share of renewables. Texas also needs more resources, such as gas-fired power plants, that can adjust output in response to unpredictable production from wind farms.

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